Israeli police on Sunday sealed up the east Jerusalem home of a Palestinian attacker who killed seven people and wounded three outside a synagogue, one of several punitive measures approved by Benjamin Netanyahu’s Cabinet overnight.
The move came following a deadly weekend in which seven people were killed and five others wounded in two separate shootings in Jerusalem, in one of the bloodiest months in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem in several years. The measures threatened to further raise tensions and cast a cloud over a visit next week by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
The weekend shootings followed a deadly Israeli raid in the West Bank on Thursday that killed nine Palestinians, most of them militants. In response, Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired a barrage of rockets into Israel, triggering a series of Israeli airstrikes in response. In all, 32 Palestinians have been killed in fighting this month.
Addressing the Cabinet on Sunday morning, Netanyahu said that “we sealed the home of the terrorist who carried out the horrendous attack in Jerusalem, and his home will be demolished.”
“We are not seeking an escalation, but we are prepared for any scenario. Our answer to terrorism is a heavy hand and a strong, swift and precise response,” he said.
The police on Sunday released footage of Israeli army engineers welding metal plates over the windows and welding the front door shut as part of the operation in response to Friday night’s deadly shooting.
Police said the attacker, identified as a 21-year-old east Jerusalem resident, was killed in a shootout with officers after fleeing the scene in the predominantly ultra-Orthodox east Jerusalem settlement of Neve Yaakov.
On Saturday, a 13-year-old Palestinian boy opened fire elsewhere in east Jerusalem, wounding two Israeli men, paramedics said. The attacker was shot and hospitalized.
Funerals for the victims in Friday’s shooting, the deadliest attack on Israelis since 2008, were scheduled to take place Sunday.
Netanyahu’s Cabinet also said it plans a series of other punitive measures, including canceling social security benefits for the families of attackers, and would take steps to “strengthen the settlements” this week as part of the government’s response to the weekend’s attacks.
Netanyahu said that strengthening settlements in the occupied West Bank was aimed at “sending a message to the terrorists that seek to uproot us from our land that we are here to stay.”
Israel captured the West Bank, along with east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Mideast war. It has built dozens of settlements, now home to more than 500,000 Jewish settlers, in the decades since.
Most of the international community considers the settlements an obstacle to peace with the Palestinians, who seek the West Bank as the heartland of a future independent state.
In Cairo, Blinken opened his Mideast tour on Sunday and was to speak with students at the American University in the city before holding talks with Egyptian officials on Monday. He was then scheduled to travel to Israel for the most critical leg of the visit for talks with Israeli and Palestinian officials.